June 27, 2008

Written by Ari Taub

June 27, 2008

German grand prix – last weekend

There were a lot of tough guys in my weight class. The Cuban world champion won the tournament. My participation was short lived although I was happy with my performance and my progress over the last several weeks. I lost my first match to France who was 5that the world championships last year. However, I have improved in every area we have worked on. My fitness was much improved. I controlled the standing position in both periods and was relaxed in the process. This is vital because you get tired much more quickly if you aren’t relaxed during a match. This may seem like an oxymoron, but it is similar to sprinting.

Sprinters must be relaxed while running as fast as they can. Wrestlers must also be relaxed while they fight for their lives on the mat. My ground defense has improved  a lot as well. I stopped France’s gut wrench both periods.  We have been working on gut wrench defense quite a bit lately so I was pretty focused on it in the match. Unfortunately, I was a little too focused on it as France lifted me and got a turn in the second round to win the match. This is the same thing that Hungary scored points on me with in the Italian tournament.

We will spend a lot of time in the next month working on this situation.  I think I will be able to defend it well in china. Slavi’s plan has been methodical and we just hadn’t got to this technique yet. I am confident that once we practice it for a while that I will recognize the situation and make the proper defense. France lost his next match to Belorussia so I was eliminated from the tournament.

During training before the tournament I got a chance to train with Poland and Belorussia which is good because I hadn’t trained with them before. I have much less experience than any other Olympian in my weight [they have all wrestled each other before]. This is because most of them are from Europe or the Russian republics and they all go to the same competitions. Also, I have done freestyle most of my career so I am playing a little bit of catch up now.

On Monday we flew to Prague. It is a nice city with lots of old buildings to look at. I did 30 pushups in a row that day – a new record for my injured left pec.

My friend, David vala, the 120 kg guy from Czech republic trained with me on Tuesday. He was 2ndat the European championships last year but failed to qualify for china.

He beat me at the 2006 worlds [gut wrench first round and lift off the clinch second round]. Training with him was a good way to measure my progress. He couldn’t turn me on Tuesday nor score on me while we were standing. I am getting much better. We lifted weights Tuesday afternoon and I recorded new maximums for bench and seated rows for this year. I will continue to get stronger as my pec heals.

Wednesday morning we were on the mat again. Practice was going well. I was feeling pretty good even though we went really hard on Tuesday. Then things went south in a hurry. I hurt my right shoulder in a scramble – heard and felt something rip or let go.  This is never a good sign and I stopped practice right away.  The rest of the day was spent with Murray icing and getting treated.  It was obvious that the injury was fairly significant and that I wouldn’t be able to compete in the tournament this weekend.  After talking with Slavi and Murray, we decided to fly home early and rehab the shoulder in Calgary. So I flew home on Thursday after spending about 2 hours on the phone with air Canada sorting out the plane ticket changes. We all flew on different routes at different times because of a lack of seats and pricing rules for ticket changes.

My nose continues to be stuffed – mostly at night. Murray has allergies now as well. I have been taking the medicine for so long now that I wonder if I am addicted to it.

The hotel in Prague was pretty nice but they did some annoying things – they turn off the air conditioning when they think it isn’t that hot out. As a result, my room was nice during the day, but hot at night. So much for a great sleep. The hotel has a taxi service that is owned by the hotel. I asked them to call me a taxi and we got one of these hotel cars which is fine except they charge twice as much as a regular taxi. I complained to the front desk and they apologized for the confusion. I don’t think there was any confusion. Prague is a huge tourist destination and the locals seem to enjoy ripping off the tourists.

I was in the old city on Wednesday night.  There were several thousand soccer fans out to watch the euro 2008 semi finals on outdoor screens. I also saw the first museum that I thought would be really interesting to walk through and inspect in detail – it was a museum of historical sexual apparatis. We didn’t go in as I was tired and figured I would come back in the next day or two. The advertisements were interesting – I was excited to see how things were done in the dark ages and I saw my first real chastity belt. I don’t think it would be very fun to be in one of those.

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